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Poster: Moose Malloy Date: Jun 11, 2008 1:17pm
Forum: movies Subject: Re: The old Maid - Bette Davis is it Public Domain??

Relatively few films made after 1923 are in the public domain.

Both those Bette Davis films are in copyright.

Speaking more generally, there is one way to check. It is, however, more useful than fool-proof.

If there are multiple publishers of the same film on DVD, as listed on or other on-line retailers, then the film is almost certainly in the public domain. Examples of this are HIS GIRL FRIDAY, NOTHING SACRED, MY MAN GODFREY.

MY MAN GODFREY has been put out on DVD by more than 20 companies - you can see them all on

Again, if the film you have a query about is available in similar fashion (multiple publisher offering the same film) on amazon etc., then it's pretty safe to assume the film is in the public domain.

Another consideration is: Was the film made by a major studio? If so, that company has survived to renew the copyright on their films (99.99% of the time) and to guard that copyright. If the film was made by a small studio, however, those safeguards **MIGHT** not be in place. This is due to those companies often folding before copyright renewal occurred.

If a film as famous as either OLD MAID or JEZEBEL were in public domain, there would be 2 dozen different DVD editions on Amazon right now. There are only Warner-Home-Video's two versions. That tells you what you need to know (and more besides) ;)